The process of selling your home is, well…a process. There’s paperwork galore, along with multiple showings, visits, and inspections. One of these steps is the home appraisal, which is the last chance for the seller to take action to ensure that their home gets the highest valuation possible.
But why is this important? According to Hannah Tan in an article for Redfin, it’s because “most offers you’ll receive will be contingent on the buyer acquiring financing from a mortgage lender.” In other words, “the higher your home appraisal is, the smoother the home selling transition will be,” she explains.
And while this isn’t usually the time to make major structural changes or renovations, Tan says there are a few relatively simple things homeowners can do to have best chance of getting the highest possible valuation. Here’s what to know.
Declutter as much as possible
While home appraisers don’t expect your house to be empty or fully staged, and shouldn’t knock off points because the rooms look lived-in, Tan points out that clutter can make their jobs more difficult. Appraisers need to take photos and measurements of your space, and that’s harder to do with stuff everywhere.
Pay attention to curb appeal
You’re not going to have the time to give the entire front of your home and yard a total makeover, but you can give it a quick refresh. Take a photo of the front of your house, and then look at it objectively (or have a trusted, honest friend do the same) and see if there are any small projects that might make a big difference.
A few suggestions from Tan include:
- Laying new mulch
- Planting fresh flowers
- Mowing your lawn
- Raking the leaves
- Trimming overgrown bushes
- Clearing sidewalks and driveways
Make a list of your recent improvements and upgrades
This isn’t strictly a tweak, per se, but prior to your home appraisal, Tan suggests making a list of everything you’ve done relatively recently to improve and upgrade your house. These can be things like having your roof replaced, getting new major appliances (that you aren’t taking with you when you leave), renovating a kitchen or bathroom, finishing or waterproofing a basement, and any upgrades made to your HVAC system.
In addition to preparing this list, Tan also recommends having copies of all receipts and other supporting documentation proving that you did, in fact, make these improvements. “This will help the appraiser see the extra value you have added to the home, and it just may help them justify their final appraised value of the property,” she adds.